This early, classic effort from Jackie Chan is a film impossible to dislike. Like most of his early work, it's a comedy-cum-kung fu movie with near constant action and never a boring moment. The plot is lightweight stuff which allows for plenty of fighting techniques and all kinds of stunts and incredible manoeuvres that have to be seen to be believed. Beautifully shot, with skilled performers, and choreographed by the masterful Yuen Woo-ping, DRUNKEN MASTER is the epitome of Hong Kong martial arts comedy and a real masterpiece.
Jackie Chan takes on the role of the rebellious, somewhat cocky student who finds himself caught up in fights wherever he goes. Whether he's attempting to score a date with a hot chick or helping in the fight against a robber, he always comes off the worse in the eyes of his father, the man who helped train him. Disgusted by his son's dishonourable activities, the father banishes Jackie to the care of his bizarre uncle, Sam the Seed. Sam is an elderly gentleman who has perfected the art of the "eight drunk gods". But before Jackie can learn any of this, he's put through some of the most rigorous and impressive training techniques yet. All manner of balancing stunts, incredible press-ups and strenuous exercises follow. The finale concerns Jackie learning the art of drunken fighting and going up against an assassin hired to kill his own father.
Despite the predictable plot this is entertainment that never lets up. Chan is on top form here, his skills as both an actor and acrobat coming to light in the often superhumanly fast and strong moves that he pulls. Chan is supported by a skilled cast, not least Siu Tien Yuen who excels as Sam the Seed, a real oddity of a character who you end up loving. Then there are the familiar martial arts turning up to take turns fighting Chan. Hwang Jang Lee takes the role of a cold, skilled assassin who goes gunning for Chan whilst minor heavies include Casanova Wong and Bolo Yeung, the latter playing the part of a chef named Gorilla!
The comedy is plentiful in this movie and most of it is in the childish, slapstick style that the Chinese enjoy. But where the film scores most is in the various fights, which mix visual jokes and japes with genuinely skilled martial arts to great effect. My favourite scene is where Chan takes on a guy with an iron head and ends up beating him senseless with a mallet - hilarious stuff. Other battles to watch out for include the extended bout with a guy who calls himself Lord of the Sticks and the fight in the restaurant with Bolo Yeung's HUGE bad guy Gorilla.
Of course the best is saved for last and there's a long, taut, sweaty and exciting showdown between Chan and the assassin, which really puts both artists through their paces and is edge of the seat stuff. The non-stop action, funny comedy and skilled performers make DRUNKEN MASTER a Hong Kong classic for any collection.
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The father of Wong Fei-hong, who has been attempting to teach his son kung-fu, but has found him too disobedient to teach and decides to send him off to his uncle, a cruel and torturous master of the 8-Drunken Genii kung-fu. After much suffering the son comes back to rescue the father from an assassin.
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